Analytical Essay Levi - Strauss: Men, Women and Chiefs

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Nurmukhametov Yersin Analytical Essay: “Men, women and chiefs” “Men, women and chiefs” is an infield work, which was written in Brazil by Claude Levi-Strauss, a French anthropologist born in Brussels in 1908. In this writing, Levi-Strauss tried to draw a parallel between a primitive society of Nambikwara and modern industrial ones. This paper will firstly describe the main questions author was trying to address, state the main argument of the author, and then analyze his work by evaluating the main argument in terms of clarity and precision and finally comment on scope and limitations of his work. The author’s project here is to show that primitive societies share structure with those which are considered to be more sophisticated. He uses the theory of social contract of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a model to examine power structure of the Nambikwara tribe. More specifically, Levi-Strauss refers to Rousseau when considering an origin of power in abovementioned society. In Nambikwara tribe, according to Levi-Strauss, “the group exchanges the individual elements of security guaranteed by the rule of monogamy and receives in return the collective security which it expects from Authority” (Paragraph 19). Such structure, as Levi-Strauss argues, depends on consent and constant exchange of “… oaths and privileges, services and responsibilities” (Paragraph 18). Hence, whereas Rousseau suggests that every person should renounce “… his own autonomy in the interests of the collective will” (Paragraph 17), in Nambikwara society only male adolescents, who are disadvantaged by the right of polygamy given to chief, renounce the opportunity to marry their peers. This, at the same time shows differences between his idea and that of Rousseau and connects the society with a conception that views “…the State as a system of guarantees” (Paragraph 19). Moreover, alongside with origin of
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